If you’re a pet owner who loves taking your dog out and about with you, you’ve probably asked yourself this question when planning a night out: “Is my dog allowed to come with me inside the restaurant?”
It’s becoming more and more common. A year of pandemic lockdowns has changed the way many of us view our pets, and wanting them by our side even as we’re in public spaces like diners and restaurants is understandable.
Still, legal restrictions and health regulations vary from state to state and even city to city, which can leave pet owners unsure.
Here are the US states where you can currently bring your pet to a restaurant:
Since 2011, when the Dining Out Growth Act passed in the state, pet owners can bring their furry friends to outdoor dining areas at restaurants, if the restaurants choose to permit it. “In other states, it’s led to a boom in business,” then-State Delegate Dan Morhaim told the Baltimore Sun at the time.
Leashed dogs can dine with their owners outdoors ever since 2015. Many in the state hadn’t even realized that it was illegal to bring a dog onto a patio before the law passed, making it a no-brainer.
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New York allows leashed dogs to sit with their owners indoors ever since a 2015 law was passed. Supporters of the law said they hoped it would allow pet owners to frequent more restaurants without the risk of leaving a pet at home or in a locked car.
One year after New York and California, Georgia moved to allow leashed dogs in outdoor areas by rewriting portions of its health code. They stressed that it was important pets have no direct contact with restaurant staff to keep everything as clean and healthy as possible.
In 2019, Texas allowed businesses to advertise themselves as pet-friendly, offering their outdoor patios for use to leashed pets. Houston had already been allowing pets in restaurants for a decade, and the measure expanded this right to the rest of the state, allowing businesses to decide if they wanted to serve canine clientele.
Florida allows dogs (and only dogs, no other pets) in outdoor patio areas if the business has the proper permits, though this is a legal grey area for pubs and bars (as opposed to restaurants). Essentially, Florida has admitted that unless someone complains, they won’t be looking to enforce the statute, but it is technically not allowed, according to Brewers Law.
And there you have it! Laws to allow pets indoors or onto patios in less receptive states have been put forward, but the issue is tied up in the complexities of federal and state law, plus health codes and the preferences of individual restaurants.
Still, it’s worth looking around in your local area (especially if you live in one of the above states) to find out if there’s a dog-friendly restaurant or diner nearby!
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